Newman: I was ‘cancelled’ by Footy Show bosses
Sam Newman has revealed he got "cancelled" by Channel 9 after his comments about George Floyd.
The former Footy Show star and the network parted ways in June after an association of more than 30 years.
His controversial comments about Floyd, who died during an arrest by police in America, made on his You Cannot Be Serious podcast, caused the relationship to fracture.
"People said oh that's a shocking thing to say. Oh is it?,'' Newman told the Sacked: Showbiz podcast.
"That's got nothing to do with how he died. That was a disgrace.
"Do you think I was not compassionate about how he died … it was a throwaway line and then all hell broke loose.
"The cancel culture kicked in and I got cancelled. The sponsors got a bit edgy that were on the Sunday Footy Show and Brent Williams who runs the station, he's a fantastic man, I have no complaints with anyone at that station and they gave me a great ride.
"They said Sam, we've had a bit of blowback and I said if you want me to disassociate myself then I'm happy to do that. I'd done a few interviews and I said if that gets you out of it that's fine."
Newman said he's become accustomed to being criticised and isn't fazed by it.
"If you don't speak reasonably highly of someone who people have an opinion of you are branded,'' he said.
"I would like to think, I thought I was about the most non discriminatory person in the business because I used to give an opinion about people no matter who or what they were.
"But people, those on a mission and those who have an agenda, and the activists they round you up.
"I had 20 odd years of experience to put up with that. I've been belted from the day I started so quite frankly I enjoy most of the beltings I get because I get amused how people can think up the most derogatory, and unkind and unpleasant things to say about you thinking it affects the person it's aimed at. It just doesn't because I know who I am and that's all that matters to me."
Newman also revealed that after a few misdemeanours on The Footy Show he threatened to quit when it was suggested the show be prerecorded. He also details how in his final year in 2018, the show turned into an ordeal and a scripted version of "Days of Our Lives".
"I'm not sure they would ever have really sacked me in the halcyon days if they didn't have to,'' Newman said.
"I know once they did say to me, and I can tell you this, after I'd done something … they said look, the Broadcasting Tribunal have given us a warning and said that if I do anything else again they will actually cancel the licence.
"And they said what we would like to do is tape the show and pre-tape it and put it to air.
"I said mate that's fine, if you tape the show I'm out.
"Taping a show that was live, if you're going to pre-tape it, I'll walk away from my contractual arrangement with you."
Newman said he walked a fine line but that was the name of the game.
"Someone once told me, in order to be reasonably successful at live television, you've got to almost risk being sacked every night. So I followed that pretty carefully and managed to navigate through a quarter of a century of it,'' he said.
"They want you to be as edgy as possible because it's all predicated on ratings but they don't want you to go too far so it's frowned upon by people who give out the licences.
"It's a very fine line. There's an old saying, never call someone's bluff unless you know what the answer's going to be. People think I'm pretty stupid, but I'm not quite as stupid as people think I am, but I generally know how far to go."
Newman said he was warned numerous times to be careful, particularly after the time he was controversially dacked by Shane Crawford.
But he said it turned into an ordeal for him because he had been an edgy larrikin from day one when it started in 1994, but it moved away from being entertainment.
While he does admit he could have done things differently and his outward show of dissent was perhaps over the top, he laments what it became.
The show was eventually axed in May last year after it was reworked with a panel featuring Neroli Meadows, Brendan Fevola, Dylan Alcott and Lehmo.
"From my point of view it had got away completely from what it's main aim was in the first place,'' he said.
"I'm not saying anything I haven't said publicly to them so I'm not airing any dirty linen at all, because I had a fantastic time and they're very nice people and all that. But they throw the baby out with the bath water and I became marginalised to the fact that I wasn't of use to them at all because the paradigm of the show had changed dramatically and it wasn't suited to what I used to do.
"I always believed that the success of The Footy Show was the people who were on it, not the people who we got to come on it. But in the end we relied in my opinion too much on the personalities we either could or couldn't get to the exclusion of the people who made it interesting in the first place. That's the people who were on it. That's why we were on it.
"And in the last couple of years it became an ordeal for me because I couldn't do what I, a) wanted to do, or b) what I thought they wanted me to do.
"And it became too structured and too organised and that was never how it was meant to be.
"Mainly it started off with a running sheet being handed out to us and after about one nanosecond's discussion, I said there's too much in this show. This show is just a structured episode of Days of Our Lives, if you like. And that's not how I perceived a live show.
"I'm not into structure and organisation and running sheets and all that. I'm not speaking out of school. I had many discussions with them before we used to go on air and in our meetings during the week and I used to say it's just overloaded with stuff and no one will have a chance to breathe. And no one will have a chance to do, me included, what I think my strength was and that is just doing it off the top of my head, off the cuff. It became a completely structured show which I found it an ordeal in the end."
Newman said he vented his concerns but it was to no avail and he took out his frustrations on air.
"If you think I'm whingeing I'm not, I'm just saying it got away from what I was comfortable with and then because I felt a little marginalised and not being able to do what I thought would be entertaining or good viewing, I became frustrated and a bit grumpy and a bit cynical,'' he said.
"And that came through on the show and people said gee, you're always angry and you're always having a go at people. I was just trying to maybe give some light and shade to a very fluffy show that they think appealed to an audience. And good on them that's fine. I didn't think it was really what the audience wanted to see and probably in the end I was proved right, but I'm not claiming a victory because we are all in it together."
Originally published as Newman: I was 'cancelled' by Footy Show bosses